You've seen the advertisements on television or the internet: Have a cool ringtone or game sent to your phone. Text us for a special message or a chance to win. But guess what? Once they've got your cell phone number, they've got you too.
Many of these services are conning people into monthly subscription services. The way things are set up, companies can bill you via your wireless bill. If they have your number, it's easy for them to submit their billing to your carrier. And it's often a nightmare for the wireless carriers because they have to deal with all the customer complaints about these charges.
Often the companies selling these services via cell phones aren't making their charges apparent to customers. Often by purchasing one single service via your cellphone, you've inadvertently signed yourself up for a monthly subscription service. Experts say that you should be very careful when using these services, and after you try to purchase the single service, if you receive a message asking you if you're sure you want to make the purchase... it's likely that you're now agreeing to a subscription service.
Check your wireless bill carefully. Last month I had a charge for $5.99 for some mystery service that I did not initiate and did not sign up for. Of course, I had to waste some time calling my carrier to have them reverse the charge. It's important to get these charges taken off your bill right away. They can really add up if you let them go on month after month. You should also know that some carriers let customers put protection on their account that basically stops all third party service billing. That's a great option for those who have had problems in the past or want to avoid them in the future.
Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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